Saturday, 31 December 2016

2016 - A look back into the past

31st December 2016

2016, what roller coaster of a year it has been, and the end of 2016 has come so quickly.  I'm taking a look back at some of the moments of TND's activity in the C64 Scene. Warning, this is a very long blog...

TOOLS

Tape Master Pro V3.0

Following on from the previous tape master pro. I wanted to make a version that could allow the user to add a presentable IRQ loader, with nice effect and also create a custom table for colour cycling. Also the program was able to create professional THIN STRIPE single colour loaders. The downside to the mastering program was that there was no OCEAN style bitmap drawing effect,  but the tape master was good overall. It supported larger files, and allowed to do a basic RUN on Exomizer compressed files. The only disadvantage I found when I mastered a couple of games, was that the tape loader crashed on some kernal keyboard input subroutines. 

I remember mastering Barnsley the Badger in the original source code and discovered that some of the loader pages interfered with the code, thus causing a fatal crash. In the end I ended up having to do an Retro Replay freeze of the program then remastered it.

Alien Formation Maker V1.0+
 

I wanted to make a game called XForce. In order to have done that, I created my very own alien formation tables, which controlled X+Y tables of the alien objects. Rather than kept the program for myself, I decided to be kind and release the program into the public domain. This was a very handy tool for me, and I also used it for Zap Zone. Which will be released with Scene World issue 27.


NEW C64 GAMES

The Vortex Crystals (16KB Version)
The first proper non-SEUCK release on the TND front was a game called "The Vortex Crystals". It was produced in 2015, and was finished as a 16KB cartridge. It didn't get released until after the deadline of the RGCD compo submissions had expired (after a few extensions). This was a platform game which I wrote in co-op with Alf Yngve. The result turned out pretty good, and Alf Yngve was quite impressed with the overall result. There were some elements missing that I could not cram into that particular game. So I decided to concentrate on a newer and final version of the game. The game is not yet 100% finished yet, although I have added the missing elements in to the production.














 Blap & Bash Revisited

HeavyStylus/RGCD contacted me regarding lack of 16KB cartridge compo entries. He saw Blap 'n Bash (The first version I released in late 2015) and suggested that I should do a 16KB cartridge version of the game. Since I had a good relationship with the 16KB cartridge compo. I decided to make an enhanced version of the crazy breakout game. All the levels were redesigned, and produced the game with a brand new look. It featured the same power ups as the old Blap 'n Bash, but the game looked a whole lot more professional and smart. The disadvantage to the game was the ball control, the ball used 45 degrees bounce all the time. Good news was that people seemed to have liked the game, despite that particular issue.

Honey Bee 
The buzzy bee finally got released in the summer of 2016. This was a fun co-op production I did with Wayne / Art Ravers, and Steven Day. This is a little game in which you controlled Buzzy the clumsy bee. He has a little quest in which was to pick up pollen from plants. After pollen was picked up, he can drop the pollen from any height into the bee hive on that particular stage. Out to slow him down was the wildlife and other hazards. If he bumped into anything he would have lost a life.

Let's Invade

This was probably one of my MOST favorite projects of 2016. Let's Invade was a 40 level Space Invaders style game, with a twist. The aliens behave in a different kind of way. The game uses a sprite multiplexer, using multiple rasters. You had to shoot aliens of different colours. The darker colours the aliens were, (RGB) the weaker they were. The lighter colours the aliens were, the harder they were to be destroyed. The game took a few months to create. There were some major and minor disasters coding the project, but I managed to pick up the pieces. The game featured an original front end, and original game style. The scrolling grid was used, and flashed in sync to the in game trance music or sound effects. There were loads of great reactions with this game. Also Errazking did a nice loading picture for this game. So the game was put together in both D64 and TAP format.

Granny's Teeth

Well, I just couldn't resist making a little game for the C64 crap game compo. I did a co-op game production with SaulC to make a funny platform game. It was inspired by the Games Creator/Creations by Mastertronic/The Codies. I have the original Codies tape for my C64, and I do find it a poor game maker. Granny's Teeth is a 4K platform game, which looks a bit like one of those games creator games - although I coded THIS game, myself in C64 studio - rather than use a GAME MAKER. You play the role of Granny Hegarty, who has to climb up the stairs and pick up her teeth out of the fishbowl. Each level progresses with some new enemies appearing. Also later levels got faster, and the game got much more difficult. The funniest part of making this game was programming the music ust for fun. I used a very low pitch single sound for the music, to make it sound EXACTLY what you would have expected in a 1984 games creator game :D

Zap Zone (Not released until Scene World 27)
A tutorial game, in which you blast aliens formation, after formation over an animated screen. The game was split into 2 versions. V1 was the basic tutorial game and source code. The second part was a complete game, which you have to complete all 20 waves, and try to achieve a high score. I decided to NOT produce a screenshot for this baby :) 

SEUCK Enhancements

Hover Raider

In 2015, I did a SEUCK Redux enhancement of the incredible  Flying Cobra by Alf Yngve. This game feature a lot of explosive action, and some fast paced blasting. Now earlier on in 2016, I decided to try something completely different to Alf Yngve's classic SEUCK game (Originally from the Binary Zone PD collection) Hover Raider. I worked on adding some enemy AI into the game, so all enemies which used random firing could just aim for the player in order to try and destroy it. I created a new front end, and music for the game. The game also featured (which no SEUCK game ever had before) a custom charset status panel. The overall result looked pretty much professional.

Alf found the game to be too difficult due to the high speed smooth scroller, so I created two different versions of the same game. An easy mode, and also a hard mode. The game ended up on Reset magazine's Mix-I-Disk.


Shoot 'Em Destruction Set 4
Alf Yngve and I worked together on some brand new SEUCK and SEUCK Redux games for the next Shoot Em Up Destruction Set. Originally it was planned to be the FINAL SEUDS in the series. The final compilation gave a huge variety in game ideas. The games all feature new front ends, and in game enhancements. My highlight of the SEUDS 4, and favorite game for the compilation was:

- Zap Fight 2 - Special Edition: 
Although Zap Fight 2 did get released on the Kung Fu Maniacs trilogy. Alf and I agreed to make the final improvements and enhancements to this game. Now Zap Fight 2 is even better than its prequel. It is a SEUCK redux homage to, take a guess which arcade classic :)

The game also featured plenty of explosive action, and mean bosses. Smooth scrolling, and plenty of in game background animation. Not to mention, like with Zap Fight, this version had in game trance music.

Dark Destroyer 2117 (Not released until Scene World Issue 27)


This is a new game I wrote exclusively for Scene World magazine during September/October 2016. It did not use SEUCK Redux, but I did push the game slightly to add some optional in game enhancements. Should the user want to have selected the in game option :). Dark Destroyer 2117 was yet another SEUCK game I did alone on my C64. I submitted it to Scene World, and the group is happy to release on issue 27 of Scene World magazine. It is a vertical scrolling shoot 'em up. You enter an alien planet and you must destroy it. Maybe some time in the future I could update/enhance this game even more, with use of the SEUCK Redux framework, but that can wait until later on in the year. The game features some pumping music (not trance this time), including a familiar Amiga tune. You'll have to wait until the game has been released with Scene World 27, some time in 2017. I also managed to do a PAL/NTSC fix of this SEUCK game as well. The gamers can see the score panel on both PAL+NTSC :)

... and finally a REAL BREAKTHROUGH with SEUCK !!!

Super Silverfish

Alf Yngve had some great ideas for some of his game creations, but he could only use SEUCK / Sideways SEUCK. However with Martin/Element114  and myself at hand, we decided that it would ever so nice to end 2016 with a final SEUCK game for that year. This one ended up as a real stunner, and made the year end with a bang ... and plenty of explosive action ... Yes, Super Silverfish by Alf Yngve pushed the limitations of SEUCK to its limits even further. The game was created the Sideways Scrolling LEFT, SEUCK and was enhanced with a new status panel (Partially from Expendable army), and also with amazingly breathtaking enhancements ... The game featured a parallax scrolling screen, with a wide range of aliens, plenty of explosive action and brilliant power ups. The game also featured Matt Gray inspired tunes, which I composed in Martin's own music player routine. The result was really awesome.



Demos and intros

Not only did I do enhancements for SEUCK games, some new games. I also did a few small demos or intros. They can be found on TND (linked to some of the games I made/or enhanced with the authors). I entered the 2016 Intro Creation compo with 3 different TND intros, which looked something like this:

Time Traveller Intro

A TND intro based in time and space, scrolling across a multiplexer star field. Features a really powerful tune, inspired by some of the classic demo tunes I heard in the past. The introduction of the tune would remind you of the game Time Traveller by Marex/Mindscape games.

TND Jack Alien Style

A windowed intro, inspired by the classic 1990's intros Alpha Flight 1970 and Avantgarde intros. The TND intro started with a square sliding on to the screen, then the patterns and the whole screen appears. The result was quite pleasing, but not many people liked the 1x1 charset. Oh well. :)

TND ECM Raster Upscroller intro

The third and final entry for the ICC2016 was the ECM upscroller raster intro. I always used the horizontal scrolling text, so I wanted to do something completely different for a change. This time by the way of a vertical scrolling intro with animated charsets. I also added some nice raster effects behind the logo, which was painted by Axis/Demons, back in 2010. Result ended up quite good.

Mix Box 1 + 2

Mix Box 1 and 2 were small music demos, which feature a choice of 5 different tunes to select from. The layout of the demo was inspired by the ACP music demos, which were featured on the Zzap64 mega tape back in the late 1980's / early 1990's. There were plenty of raster rolling in this demo, and also plenty of quality tunes as well.

...and finally:

Where to get my stuff from...

Easy: Visit "THE NEW DIMENSION" web site, and download our own productions / contributors releases, etc. I'm sure you'll be looking forward to those.

That ends 2016.

have a
HAPPY NEW YEAR and see you in 2017!




Friday, 23 December 2016

Christmas Treats coming 25/12/2016

Friday 23rd December 2016

Things have been quiet on the TND blog, apart from releasing 4 new intros for inside/outside the Intro Creation Compo 2016. However I can reveal that I have actually been very busy the past 2 or 3 weeks working on some C64 projects, which will be launched on Christmas Day in the morning hopefully before 12:00pm UK time. Should everything go according to plan that is. :)

First of all, there is a horizontal scrolling SEUCK Redux game by Alf Yngve. One game, which will probably knock your socks off. It will be packed full of explosive action, some awesome power ups, and no longer looks SEUCK like. Of course scrolling is from left - to the right. The game also features a loading screen, which Alf constructed himself, and also my own front end, some action packed tunes and in game music with SFX option. That will be one game to look forward to.

On the SEUCK front ... The second treat will be a SEUCK School special on the SEUCK Redux. How YOU can get involved in making a SEUCK Redux production.

Finally as the final production, will be Mix Box #2. The second in a series of mini music collections, that will consist of different tunes. There are 2 days until Christmas but sadly no other productions of mine will be made in time for the festive period. Although two small games are already done, but have been reserved for Scene World disk mag.

Friday, 28 October 2016

RUN - RUN - THE INVASION HAS STARTED

28th October 2016

It is currently my second, but last day of my holiday, and things will start to quieten down even more from next week, due to even less free time. Although C64 activities will occasionally continue. Now today, you had better run (To the TND web site) as the invasion has just started.

Yes, indeed. The New Dimension finally launches 'Let's Invade'. A souped up Space Invaders style game with a major twist of audio and psychedelic visual. If you would like to check the full game out, in VICE, CCS64, Micro64 or your own C64 with 1541Ultimate, SDIEC or whatever. The game is best played on a CRT monitor, rather than an LED TV. Although I use an LED TV to save space, and no longer use a CRT. I set my C64 to a HDMI S-Video to HDMI convertor, and set my 19" TV to PC mode. That's where the best picture comes from my TV SET.

In this game, you have been transported into a vortex, where you will encounter some of the meanest invaders. In order to save planet Earth, you have to battle over 40 different waves of alien invasion. Luckily for you, you can pick up power ups, simply by blasting the orange aliens. However, power ups are timed, unless you have picked up a speed / firepower speed power up. Those of which only get lost if a mischievous invader gives you DEFAULT or you lose a life, by hitting their bomb, or an Invade occurs.

The game consists of psychedelic void scrolling visual effects, with strobe flashing and optional thumping in game trance SID music. The strobe effects also be disabled on the red startup screen. There's also assorted level setup, where more aliens will require more than 1 hit to be destroyed. The game is based on shaded colour, where the dark coloured aliens are weaker, compared to their counterparts. The brightest aliens will require even more hits before they can be eliminated. Alien behaviour is also different. The more aliens shot, the aliens will move a different way. Making this game slightly more original.

Full documentation on the game has also been included in the zip archive.

Should you wish to save the world from alien invasion, then why not DOWNLOAD "Let's Invade" for absolutely nothing, and then install it on your Commodore 64, VICE or whatever.

Let's Invade at The New Dimension


The game is produced on disk and tape.

Sadly there is no 16KB cartridge version of the game, due to the size of the overall production exceeding it.

Saturday, 15 October 2016

The Invasion is Coming

15th September 2016

Well finally the wait is nearly over. Over the past week ahead and myself and the rest of the testers have been testing through the whole game. There were only some tiny alterations that were needed to be make. Unfortunately, due to the size of the game being slightly over, the game doesn't fit on a 16KB cartridge image. So I have decided to leave that out for the time being.
 
A digital disk (with a brand new TND intro) and tape version (minus the intro) of the game has been built, and I have also worked hard on the instructions manual, final proof reading. Now everything is ready, I have set an official date of INVASION. That will be Friday 28th October 2016.



Let's Invade is now COMPLETE....Keep an eye out for news on the game release (and free download) at http://tnd64.unikat.sk in the late morning of the official release date :)




Saturday, 8 October 2016

Let The Invasion Commence [Part 10]

1st October - 8th October

The week was really quiet on the Let's Invade, project. Apart from the weekend, where a lot of activity has been made in this game. I was pondering for some handy information on generating random bullet firing for the aliens. Well, it turned out very bad last week, where I really got stuck. This week however was a completely different kettle of fish ... for better it was too :)

I was thinking in my head that the way I did the alien bullet random position subroutine shouldn't be based on wrapping in memory the low and hi-bytes of the alien colour, position, and sprite X position. Instead, it would have been better to generate a 256 byte table of values ranging from 1 to 25. So I generated a simple BASIC listing, to place a series of random tables in memory $1000-$1100. Then saved the table and then I extracted the random generated table file to the KickAssembler project folder. Next I created a command to open C64 the file (RandTable.PRG) for assembling.

The file imported into the source okay, however I needed to generate some more code, to set a looping value of 1 to 25. So a couple of subroutines were called in. One for moving to the NEXT value read from the random pointers (RandTable.PRG). Then store to the value of the actual pointer. Then a subroutine that calls the fetch table and check for which alien the bullet should be placed on. I also created a check in which commands an alien to not drop a bullet, if it is dead. I had a better result, but for some strange reason, the bullets appeared from the upper border. I played around with the subroutine, to work out what was causing this problem. Then set up a boundary for the bullet. Basically if the bullet tries to leave the top border and enter the screen, zero position the X + Y value of it. That helped me solve the problem.

Another small bug occurred in the game. After finishing playing the first game. I tested the pause/quit function to ensure the game works as it should. Unfortunately the game didn't quit, but made a CPU JAM in vice (A crash). So I did a little bug fix to sort out the problem. The game then seems to have been working okay. It looks as if now, the game could be finished. But I'll see what the testers find, that will cause problems to the game.

While I'm was waiting for a result. I have been composing some loading music for the game's tape loader system (Thunderload). Since the theme of the game is a 'Trance' based theme. The loading music ended up with pumping speed. The drums however didn't use the filtered kick and snare. Instead I set a different waveform to use a filter. The result turned out quite nicely. I have been working on making a tape master for the game. I am hoping that the result will turn out pretty good at the end. There was a slight error with the tape mastering, where I placed the loading text in the wrong place, but everything else worked quite nicely. That bug can easily be fixed no problem. :)

I'm not ready to release the game just yet. Hopefully SOON!



Saturday, 1 October 2016

Let the Invasion Commence [Part 9]

25th September - 1st October 2016

Let's Invade was currently in the testing phase. Unfortunately not everything is quite ready yet although I do feel confident about an Autumn release of this game. Parts of the game code needed to be tweaked, the Health and Safety notice needed to be updated, and also the game char set needed a quick change. So I fixed those, however, I came across another obstacle. The alien bullet firing isn't random enough, and it seems the same alien shoots the bullet. Sadly this is still the obstacle I haven't got over with this week.  

During that obstacle, I felt slightly demotivated, and decided to code a little something else. That was of course a mini music demo called 'Mix Box 1'. Featuring 5 new unreleased tunes, and some oldschool look, despite the raster timing issues. I've never really liked timing raster bars.

Thirdly a disk menu for Reset's Craptastic was programmed, near complete, but requires raster bar timing.

Today, I got back to Let's Invade and once again, it was another frustrating session. I did some how manage to get the enemies to drop bullets randomly, by creating the wrapping round routine, but after a while, the same aliens were dropping the bullets. Yet again, I didn't manage to get over this obstacle yet. One day climb over the wall that blocks me, but it is a matter of when....


Saturday, 24 September 2016

Let the Invasion Commence [Part 8]

18th - 24th September 2016

Earlier on this week, I did an upscroll for the high score table and also the end sequence. This time I wanted to add a little more code to make a much better ending. After all, I don't want the gamers to play the game to the end and be rewarded just an upward scrolling message, saying well done. Instead I wanted a scenario for the ending. So I drew two single screens, using CharPad, and then setup the attributes.I also drew some new sprites for the ending as well.

After the 2 screens were finished, it was time to code an ending, as a reward for the player to finish the game. I programmed the first scene, and set an interval before the next scene went on to the game. After the second scene was drawn on to the screen, I worked on getting the sprites animated and leave the screen, when required to do so. Then linked the overall thing before the end scroll.

I was very happy with the result so far, but noticed that the upscroll didn't work 100% on NTSC, although it worked will with PAL. After a quick fix, the game got submitted to two of my testers who tested and helped me with Honey Bee. :) One of the testers emailed me about the in game flashing feature. He suggested I should add a health and safety notice, like I did with Sheepoid. Also add an option to the notice to be able to disable the strobe effects. The front end also had a minor adjustment, where the squares around the logo was replaced by Asterisk stars, and flash. Apart from that, the game is now being tested.

Let's Invade is planned to be released in Autumn 2016, but not until it is 100% ready. The BETA testing is now in session. :)

Saturday, 17 September 2016

Let the Invasion Commence [Part 7] - Are we there yet?

12th - 17th September 2016

Last week ended in disaster. It was time to pick up the pieces and continue from the previous source which was backed up. If you may have remembered, I managed to get the aliens move the full screen, like normal space invaders would, using sprites. Unfortunately that also caused major problems with the movement of the player.The code then got unstable. Since I had major difficulties with this last week. I decided to roll back to the previous source code and have aliens moving their limited position. This actually makes this Space Invaders style game unique. Get yourself for a bumpy ride as it is episode 7 of:

Let's Invade!

Earlier on this week, I had a bit of a surprise from Errazking. He worked on a loading picture for the game. I didn't really expect to have a loading picture, since I was originally going to create a unique tape loader system which animated aliens and had both border and background loading stripes using the EOR 2-coloured loader with loading noise. Although a loading picture was done. It doesn't mean I cannot use the loading picture, for the sake of the tape loader idea. I can easily implement a subroutine to blank out the flashing $D021 stripes then play loading music. The disk loader will just be what I usually do. Display a picture, load via IRQ turbo or non IRQ kernal loader and display the 'Press Space' flashing sprites. ... but I'm not quite ready for that part of the project yet :)

This week however, after restoring a previous save of the game (before the mess was made last week). I had to re-copy/paste the rest of the levels into the source code. I was very lucky to have had the new source with the 40 levels also stored on the hard disk drive. As soon as this was done, I decided to work on something else... Power Ups. Yes, most of this week was based on in game power ups.Before I did that however, I created a subroutine that morphed the player bullet into an explosion for every alien killed.

I started creating and testing power ups manually. The power ups should take place when an alien has been shot. The power ups should also be random. This took me a few days to sort out some power ups for the game, but it sure was worth the effort. I made some power ups to be quite special, and some power ups timed. I implemented subroutines that gave the player ability to fire faster bullets, or move at a faster pace. Unless a life was lost.There's also a feature called DEFAULT, which the player loses all power ups.

Orange aliens could also award the player SPECIAL limited features, such as:

- Alien Trance - Freezes the aliens for a short period of time - except for their bombs, they can still drop those respectably.

- Super Shield - Protects the player from alien bullets for a short period of time. Although the player can be protected from bullets, it should not be protected from the aliens themselves.

- Smart Bomb - Allows the player to destroy the whole group of aliens, by pressing DOWN on the joystick. It fades out all of the aliens and moves on to the next level. Just like with the Super Shield. I have decided to make this power up very limited against time.

- Blackout - Sometimes having a rotating grid behind the aliens can be quite distracting, so as a special power up (like with the smart bomb feature), a timed Blackout feature removes the rotating background and makes the screen black. It also removes the trance beats from the score panel at times.

When I tried out the power ups, and set their timers, they all worked a treat and the result was quite rewarding. However, the player would have needed to know which power up is carried. In order to solve this issue. I created a timed text display over the score panel. Should an event occur, the text should display a message. As soon as this was working well, I worked on some extra tunes for the hi-score table and game ending.

After being very happy with the result with the music. I worked on the high score table. Unlike a normal 5 list high score table. I decided to use a list of 20 names. I had this idea in my head, which was to generate a 2x2 char upscroller for displaying the list. I programmed a new routine that would do exactly that job. I also added the hi-score trance music into the code, and tested it. Looks great, but wouldn't it be better if I actually added the invaders going down on the hi-score list?. This now got implemented.

The next task was to actually getting the high-score position detected. In the hi-score listing source file. I added some more code, in which allows the user to enter his/her initials for a place in the high score table, and then get the score and name placed into the hi-score hall of fame. Finally, I implemented a hi-score saver subroutine, in order to write the high scores on to a .d64 should the game be running through a disk image. A hi-score loader on boot-up also got implemented.

Next I wasn't too happy with some of the in game sound effects, so I made some major tweaks to the sound effects to make then sound more 8-bit Commodore 64 arcade style. Although I was happy with alien movement sound. Which of course that stays. Some new sound effects were created for alien destroyed, alien hit (and changes colour), and also the player death.

Finally to end the day with the project. I created an ending. Once again an up scroll with well done text. There is still room for some more sprites and code for the ending, so maybe next week I could implement something quite special.

Overall this week was probably the BEST week for me on this project so far. A lot of work has been done on the game. I have been really impressed with the results of the game so far. I look forward to next week to create an additional ending to accompany the end up scroll. After all I don't think people would want just a simple up scroll for an ending, straight after completing the game. There should be a scenario for the end after all. Besides I don't think I'd want a very low score for a game ending. Heheheheh. :)

You won't be able to play the game yet. However to tease you, here's a video of the latest progress (minus the end screen) - Well, I am not that good at playing C64 games, never mind programming them. :D

video




Saturday, 10 September 2016

Let the Invasion Commence [Part 6]

5th September - 10th September 2016

Quite a lot of hard work has been done with Let's Invade during the week or so. Most of this week, I have been concentrating on getting the rest of the levels in place into the game code, and finally got that finished. I was very pleased with the result, but some more work needs to be done on the invaders.

The invaders were not being able to use the full screen to move across during each level. If 5 rows of aliens were shot at either end, the other aliens would NOT stop moving to the end. So I made loads of macros to get the aliens to move how the Space Invaders would have moved in the first place. Once they got to a certain stopping position. The invaders move down 4 pixels. Unfortunately, there were loads of flickers over the aliens, due to sprites being called inside a raster split. I then move the sprites up each raster about 20 pixels. That was much better. Although there were still flickering aliens.




Next I generated some macros for the collision for each alien sprite. An alien should get shot according to which position the player's bullet is located, and the raster beam of where the alien sits. It resulted quite nicely, but after so much code had been produced. While I was still tweaking bits of the code, an unknown bug had occurred. Sadly the player sprite and the bullets no longer use the ASL ROR $D010 sprite expansion. I couldn't work out why this happened, when the synchronized loop in the game code calls for Sprite0, 1 and 2 to expand its MSB X position. The aliens MSB expanded okay. Maybe one day I may find the solution. If not, then I'll have to just go back to the previous backup of the code, and just work on the power ups instead, and leave the invader's movement to how it was before. We'll just have to wait and see.

Sadly not a good result :(

Saturday, 3 September 2016

Let the Invasion Commence [PART 5]

3rd September 2016 - On a terribly rainy day

Yesterday I mainly worked on the title screen, and I got it working (apart from the hi-score table, which has not yet been implemented - that will be last thing). The game has got in game music working, and there are 23 levels. Making more levels will commence perhaps next week.

Today, I worked mainly on the 2x2 void effect inside the game. The feature only scrolled one direction, which was upwards. I decided to add a special feature to the void scrolling, so that it uses a timer which will scroll the void clockwise after a certain amount of time. The next trick I wanted to do was add the in game 'Trance' music's beat to flash the void. In order to do this, I had to hunt for the correct bytes in the Goat Tracker music player, using a native C64 tool. Who, in the demo scene remembers 'Music Wizard' by Faces?. I managed to find the byte that made the drums kick in. Then I implemented a value check equalizer subroutine. It checks for the drum sounds, and then flashes the grid through a timer. I was really pleased with this.

The result was quite pleasing, but there was still more to be done to the void. New colour tables were set for the levels, so that you don't get the same grey flashing scheme on all levels. After each level progresses, a different colour flash was called, and made things more interesting. That still wasn't all for this.

The game was missing a variety of different voids for each level. So I loaded up the charpad V1.8 , and generated some 2x2 void chars. After 10 different voids were done, I exported the chars to binary form, added some more tables and subroutines, then had a good result ... Well, sort of ... The void chars needed quite a bit of altering, to get right. I was happy with the final void chars. Only one problem came by with this. The colour flashing is TOO light, which made it hard for me to see the transparent invaders. So, in order to solve this problem I decided to mix mostly dark colours inside the flash. The result went quite well. I'm very happy with the scrolling void, and also the music kicking in to flash it as well.


video
Next week, I will be ready to implement some more levels, and maybe add some power up into the game next week as well.

Friday, 2 September 2016

Let the Invasion Commence [PART 4]

29th August - 2nd September 2016

This probably has been the most active week on this game project. So far now. Last week I managed to get 11 levels done so far in the game. Well this week, I wanted to do some more this week. I managed to get 23 levels done. However, most of this week I decided to take a little break from working on levels, and I decided to do some other things with this game, during my spare time.

First up, for a couple of days or so, I wanted a little break from game programming, so I decided to boot up Goat Tracker and compose some in game music. The music turned out very trance like, but when I imported the tune a day later into the game. Suits the theme quite well. I may have added a scrolling 2x2 tile behind the invaders, but I have another trick to add to it. Wouldn't it be better if the grid flashed any time the trance drums kicked in? Maybe next week.



For now ... I decided to re-design the character set for the game, and title, to make it slightly more modern. I was tempted to create a new front end for the game, as I was just bored with the game preview title screen. Well, I got carried away and made a more presentable title screen. It features a char-scroller inside the logo (Where 2 multicolours are mixed together), a scroll text and also the alien scoring. I also added an alien scoring display, and also the music/sfx options. (The charsets at the top of the front end will reveal those). I also created a new 2x2 charset for the main game, itself to make it look quite modern as well.

More work is to be done on the game project in the near future, but I am very happy with the work done on it so far. After adding all of the levels into the game, the power ups will be next on the agenda, and also the flashing grid for the trance music (and different grid tiles for each level). I also have the high-score table/name entry to add to the game as well.

Saturday, 27 August 2016

Let the Invasion commence [Part 3]

20th August 2016 - 27th August 2016

You may have remembered that back in July 2016, I had started on a few games, and ended up releasing a playable preview of Let's Invade. Well good news is that, although I am still at the early stages of the game project, things are starting to shape up quite nicely. THIS WEEK in fact. 11 levels have been placed into the game code, a couple of extra alien colours have been added. A built in 'transparent and solid' mode option also got built into the code. Finally animated background replaces the background scheme (due to colour clashing - aliens were too hard to see at times). Each level should have a different background tile scheme in the near future.





Most of this week's session was basically working on getting each level set up. 11 levels have been done so far. Early levels have a few aliens, then as each level advances, more aliens will appear on to the screen. After five levels, Aliens appear in lighter colours. Those aliens will require more than just one hit. Levels 5 - 10 use this method, and the game sorts of intensifies a little. Should I get round to adding more levels to the game, the plans are that levels 11 - 15 will require aliens that need 3 hits to kill ... 16-20 is planned to intensify the game even more where the 1x,2x,3x aliens to hit are mixed. Later levels will lower the position of the aliens, and probably speed them up. I added couple of extra colours (purple and orange) in the macro source, where a purple alien will give the player an extra life, and the orange gives a power up or a power down. (Not implemented yet, only changes the border colour for the timebeing).

After the levels are complete, I aim to focus on the 2x2 scrolling tile graphics, and make the scrolling of each tile move according to a timer (Remember the TND Intro 2014 intro I did for Dark Force, during February 2014?). Also there's in game trance music, power ups and presentation to focus on.

Keep an eye on my next blog to find out the next update with this project. :)



Looks a bit like something in the early 1980's with that border eh? Well, things will be modern in this game project sooner or later :)


Monday, 11 July 2016

Let the INVASION Commence [PART 2]

8th-12th July 2016

Last time when I was working on this little game project I was working on the main game framework. Well, now, a little more work has been done over the previous 2 or 3 days during my spare time. Unfortunately things will go pretty much quiet for just over 2 weeks or so (That cannot really be helped!). Anyway, here's what has happened this time round.

After testing the main game engine, and felt much more happier with it. I decided to do a spot of music and SFX composing. So in order to do this. I used Goat Tracker. As the music editor can also support sound effects with music. Considering that when I produce the title screen in the near future. I will want 3 different options, the player can choose for sound (and music). They are: Music, Music + SFX, or SFX Only. It took me a couple of hours or so to think and compose a tune I wanted to make for the game. I decided to stick to the melodic trance type of theme, and ended up with a pretty stunning result. Sound effects were created and converted to source code. Then I generated the byte tables for each sound effect in order to implement into the game's code.
The next job was to sort out the scoring system. So I implemented the score in a multiple of 10 points. Aliens of a certain type will score 10 points, some 20, and also some 30 points. I also been working on subroutines, in which will fade alien colours to a darker RGB, before it can be killed. This will be taking effect on later levels. Earlier levels will start with the basics, from having less aliens, to having them all on screen. The idea for each level is to eventually have alien colours lighter on some aliens - Making the player have to shoot more than just one shot at the alien. I am also considering to so something like a 'Special Power Up' alien. In which an alien appears in an unusual colour. Should it get shot, the player could have faster firepower, or even faster movement. This idea is currently on the drawing board, but should it happen. Then it would probably make things a whole lot better. Levels should have varied alien speed - where later levels are much more faster. I will also need to vary the bullet speed.

Finally, graphics ... A background has been designed and created, although it isn't really a final background design. There are still some minor issues, but yet again, it is still just for testing. The score charset also has some minor pixel bugs, which will be fixed at the end of the main game. Here is a preview snapshot of the game's progress.



Things to do next:

Probably in about just over 2 weeks time, I intend to tidy up the code, and get those aliens moving the full screen, rather than part screen (Although sprites are being used for this). The trick will be to check if an alien at each end is alive or not. If an alien on the very left or right on all 5 rows dead, then the next alien sprite should be able to reach the edge of the screen before moving downwards.

Also there is the front end with game options to work on. The idea for the new front end will be to do something pretty much spectacular. Also give out the scoring system for each alien shot.

Then there are also the levels to setup as well. In which the invaders will appear on different lines, and perhaps as different colours as well. This idea is to give some variety into this game.

I might even do an option where the player can choose between a solid sprites, or checkered sprites. 

Saturday, 9 July 2016

Let the INVASION commence [PART 1]

4th July 2016 - 9th July 2016

This week, has been quite an active week. Especially after wondering what to do for a small future game project. During my childhood, through to now. I always enjoyed Retro Games, and 'Space Invaders' was one of my all time favourite games in the arcades. Well, that's it. I'll code my own 'Space Invaders' type of game. ... BUT WITH A DIFFERENCE. :).

Many C64 Space invaders games used either 1X2 or 2X2 char sets.  There were some great classic remakes of this game. Take for example 'Invaders 64' by LiveWire, for example. It used 1x2 char sets for the invaders, but the game was pretty much slow and too easy. There was also Firebird Software's "Arcade Classics". Another stunning collection of simple arcade classics, by Ubik. The Space Invaders game was great. It used 3x2 charsets (if I worked that out right). What about my Space Invaders? ... I always hated coding charset movements and got into loads of scrapes with it. So, as an alternative. I decided to go with SPRITES.

Behold the beginning of a new C64 project called:

LET'S INVADE

First steps: Sprites

For the first part of the little project, I booted up Sprite Pad. I drew some sprites for the player ship, the player's bullet, 2 frames for the aliens and also the player and alien explosion sprites. I also created the GAME OVER text using sprites as well. I generated .PRG files for the game project.




Next step: Charsets

For the main game, I want to be able to use a 2x2 charset for the text and scoring panel. So, I loaded up Cuneiform, and designed a hires-character set.




Big leap: Coding

The next step was to program the game. For this little project, I decided to use Notepad++ with KickAssembler and Exomizer plugins. This would make my game development a whole lot easier. The user of MACRO commands inside KickAssembler, also makes my C64 coding life a whole lot better as well. I programmed the game by generating multiple interrupts that can display 1 sprite for the player, bullet and alien bullets. As you know the Commodore 64 can limit itself to 8 sprites by default. If I had just 8 sprites in this game, it would have been too boring :). I wanted 25 sprites for the aliens. In order to do this, I had to use multiple rasters through an interrupt. Basically the so-called 'Fake-Multiplexor'.

After getting all of the sprites to display, the next task was to get the aliens moving. In order to get the aliens moving, I created a timer in which controls a delay of the alien movement. Then after the delay timer has reached a set interval, a subroutine is called to flip the alien sprite animation. Once an alien reaches the end of the screen area, a raster position moves down 8 pixels, forcing the aliens to move down. Then alien movement swaps direction.

Now aliens were able to move left/right and drop down a row, etc. The next step was to have an active player and bullet moving. The player gets controlled using a joystick plugged into port 2. Eventually, I might also add a keyboard control for player controls. Pressing fire tests the player's bullet. If the player bullet is still active, then another bullet cannot be shot until after the bullet has left the screen.



The tricky bit was setting up the collision for aliens to player bullet. I needed to set the sprite/alien collision, according to the sprite position, raster position, and check whether or not the alien is dead or not. I didn't want to type in the same code for collision checks 25 times (1 listing per object). So in order to solve this problem, I generated a macro command. After assembling, and running the collision code, it did sort of work, but for some strange reason I had two rows of aliens hit at the same time. It turned out to be a problem with the raster position, and wrong rows set. This problem eventually got solved and the bullets hit the aliens respectively.

The next step was to set the alien bullet drop. For the aliens to be able to drop the bullets, we don't want the aliens to be dead. That would be silly. To solve this problem a small routine was generated in order to check whether or not the alien on a certain raster line is dead. If it is, then keep on randomizing the timer until an active alien is available to drop a bullet.

Nearly getting the main engine of the game sorted out. The aliens need to be able to hit the player ship. Should the aliens hit the player, a life should be lost. At the moment, I just set an infinite loop to completely flash the border while destroying the aliens. There's a bit more work to be done, but here's the first video of the work done so far on this little summer game project.



video
Note: This version of the game test has player/alien collision disabled. The music featured in this game isn't the final tune either. Since I originally wrote it for the ending of a previous game. The game will have music of the the same style. As well as a charset background behind the aliens in the near future. I think a shadowed city background might be quite nice. Or perhaps a 2x2 tiled style animation? ... Since the game is using 2x2 charsets for text. There should be enough space for some additional characters not needed.

Other things intended for the game and ideas how it could be implemented?

-The player death sequence needs to be implemented into the code.

-Alien death (Remove visible alien sprite). Use bullet sprite for the SPLAT animation, to destroy the alien

- Active scoring and lives system. Aliens should give out different scores, according to the type. (Ranging from 100 - 500 points). Lives should be lost per player hit by alien or bullet

- Levels and variety. Each level will use the standard alien formations, but each level should differ. The concept will be quite different to a standard Space Invaders game. I intend to have aliens use colours in order from LIGHT (Strong aliens) to DARK (Weak Aliens). If an alien turns into a darker colour, it will get destroyed.

- A nice backdrop or animation. It would be nice to add some in game graphics, which could represent a city or maybe some cool effects behind the aliens (2x2 moving tile background animation).


- New music and SFX. Could be trance music. Who knows?

Watch this space for more progress updates and videos.

When is the final game intended to be release?

Since KickAssembler really helps me well with a lot of the code (Generating macros, etc) then it could be possible that this game could be finished BEFORE the end of August. It will be available FREE from the TND web site as soon as the program is finished.

Friday, 22 January 2016

2016, into The future of THE NEW DIMENSION and C64 productions

22nd January 2016

Over the past 25 years or so. I have been a very keen Commodore 64 user. I liked to play many Commodore 64 games,  played quite well in some as a teen. I also enjoyed watching C64 demos, and checking out the classic C64 utilities. I also ended up composing music for myself - then did tunes for other people in the C64 community as well as for just myself. In the past you saw many games from my C64 label 'THE NEW DIMENSION'. Many of my worthy titles were:

* Sub Hunter
* Bionik Granny Returns
* Sheepoid DX
* X-Force
* Blap 'n Bash
* Invert
* Woolly Jumper
* Tape Master Pro V1.0
* Tape Master Pro V2.0
* Loadergame Tape Master Kit
* Loadergame Tape Master Kit 2

Also was involved with SEUCK enhancements to many SEUCK Compo winners of the past.

2015 saw the launch of a new special feature on the TND web site called "SEUCK School", in which gives the BASICS on how to enhance your own SEUCK games, by giving it some features of your own. There are some explanations on how to do certain features. A framework for use with ACME cross assembler has also been provided.

http://tnd64.unikat.sk/Seuck_School.html


Are there any more C64 releases coming in to the future?

YES


Although my motivation was quite low during the busy productive era in my job. Now things have gone quiet, and some more holidays have been booked. (Currently one the last day of one right now) motivation has been pretty strong to get projects out the way. There will be some more new Commodore 64 games coming in the future. There is to be the launch of the long awaited Honey Bee (Full game), soon to be available on the TND web site for you to download. The game is finished and has been fixed to work on NTSC versions of the C64 as well as PAL.


Commodore 64 Utilities

Soon to be released will be a TAPE MASTER PRO 3.  A fun tape mastering tool. A tool which will allow you to create loading scroll text with picture and music and run programs that use a BASIC SYS start address. The loader system's turbo was made by Martin Piper. However it features additional programming, which I implemented into the loader. So it is a mixture of both Martin and my own piece of work.

I cannot get it to work on BASIC programs on the fly, but it seems to work great on programs that use BASIC SYS addresses (without having to type in any hex addresses), and not screw up zeropages, with thanks to Martin's zeropage, INIT and stack destroyer routine (Will clear the tape loader from memory after loading).

Due to the extra features implemented into the loader system size is slightly bigger, compared to the previous TMP builds.Other new features implemented in the latest loader (NEW: Loading stripes cycle table feature), a choice to whether or not draw the picture like the old ocean loader, or wait until the full picture has loaded.  There is also the all new Loading 1-liner bar. The Press SPACEBAR to exit loader (So you can listen to music featured in the loader). In V2.1 The LOAD ERROR feature didn't display a red border in the IRQ tape loader, prompting the user to REWIND tape, any time an error occurs. Maybe some other things in the future as well :)

 Another plan is that It should still feature the loading stripes selector, featured from V2.1, should the cycle table option not be selected.. . No editor has been made yet, but I will be working on this soon. This version was tested on Retro Reto Pan :)

A brand new TND loader tune has also been composed. You'll be hearing this tune in ALL 3 of the enhanced Sideways SEUCK compo entries of yesteryear. A really powerful tune it is as well :)






Commodore 64 Games

In February 2016 will be the launch of the Sideways SEUCK Compo 2015 prizes (New front ends and enhancements) of Retro Reto Pan, Eidothea, and Edge of Time. Here's a preview snapshot of one of the 3 compo entries new front ends to look forward to. :)






Also in April 2016, you should hopefully see two 16KB cartridge compo entries from me. Vortex Crystals and Blap 'n Bash Revisted.

Vortex Crystals 
 
Vortex Crystals is a fun platform game, in which was inspired by some of the classic single screen platform shoot 'em ups. I also liked 'Impossible Mission', but this is NOT another Impossible Mission style game. You play the role of a hero, who must collect all of the crystals from each storage facility. Shoot aliens, pick up the exit card and get out of each zone alive. The 16KB is missing features, such as warp gate animation (Where aliens appear on to the screen). Also some other additional features I would have loved to have added, but due to the 16KB limitation for the compo. I couldn't add these ideas. Good news however is that AFTER the cartridge compo. I will be implementing more features into the game. Including a new front end, an intro sequence, hi-score table, warp gates, maybe smoother animations for some of the aliens.



Blap 'n Bash - Revisited

Blap 'n Bash Revisited is a (and will only be) special 16KB cartridge version of the original 'Blap 'n Bash'. It features 16 brand new re-designed levels. Smart graphics and brand new music. The power up features are exactly the same as they were before, including the 'Trance Feature'. There is a new feature implemented 'today' into the barrier power up. Should the ball hit it once. The barrier will disappear straight away. Like with Vortex Crystals, this game is currently getting NTSC fixed by probably one of the best C64 NTSC fixers around today, Dirk :)



Shoot Em Up Destruction Set 4 - The final edition

Alf Yngve has been making many great SEUCK games in the past, and he is still going strong with those today, with fresh new ideas. He's been sending me some demos of some of the games.  There is a 4th SEUDS still under development, for Psytronik which features some great new games. Tau Zero Reloaded, a stunning vertical scrolling futuristic blaster. Spy Rider 2, a SEUCK Overlander style game, with a bit of Operation Wolf . Big Gun No. 1 (One of my favorites in this compilation), a colossal robot style game, featuring HUGE GAME GRAPHICS. Two games (Streets of Fury and Operation Metal Storm) had to be replaced, due to problematic issues. So as an alternative, Edge of Time (Final non compo version - which is under development) and a really nice commando style game called  'Unexpanded Army', a game which wears the shades of cops. 3 games will be SEUCK  redux titles. The other two won't be able to fit into this category.


... that's a taster of games... Now ...

Music and the demo scene.

I also have some music projects in the pipeline. Quite recently I composed a brand new TND loader tune. This will be featured on many TND productions / contributors releases, which consist of a taape loading picture. I also intend to restart the in game music for Aviator arcade from scratch. So that the music would suit the game. Not too sure when that will be.